Thursday, December 03, 2009

Laying Down the Knife

We recoil in horror at the thought of someone mutilating themselves, cutting themselves, and yet many of us do the same thing with relationships. I know I have done so, many times. I can look back on my life and see a long-standing pattern of using relationships to cut myself and crush my own heart. It's a sick-ass way to use people.

I have to admit the thought is repulsive to me. I've never thought of myself as a user, because I am a lover and a giver. But paradox exists within us. Otherwise, we could not reflect it in our "outer" world.

In any case, I am done with this. I am laying down the knife. No more cutting myself or otherwise abusing myself using the instrument of other people.

I am declaring my independence from the practice of self-mutilation. I am free!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rewriting My Story

I realized something very important this morning: the role I have been playing my whole life, that of the tragic love figure - alone and unwanted, has been an addiction for me. I am defining addiction as extreme attachment.

Sure, some things happened in my early childhood that triggered those initial feelings of being alone and unwanted, but the perpetuation of the myth has been my own doing. It was my life story, and I can see now that it couldn't have played out any other way, because I wrote it that way, with my thoughts and expectations.

So, time and again, when love presented itself, I turned it away. I hadn't written love into my story, only the search for love. The search for love is perfectly safe. As long as love is just out of reach, you've got nothing to lose, right? My whole life has been about making sure I've got nothing to lose when it comes to love. Apparently, I have a deep-seated belief in loss that needs to be uprooted and tossed.

And when I married, of course I married someone who was both qualified and willing to support me in my role. I always felt alone and unwanted in my marriage, but that was never his fault. He couldn't have played any role in my life other than the one I offered. If he had come bearing ardent love, deep intimacy, openness, attentiveness, I would have turned him away. No roles were available for lovers in my story.

Oh, I wanted those things, deeply and passionately. But I couldn't allow myself to have them and still maintain the image I held of myself as alone and unwanted.

And no amount of Lights! Camera! Action! could change the course of the story, then or now. The only thing that can make a difference is awareness that the role is my own creation and a major rewrite of the story.

The awareness has dawned. The rewrite is in progress.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Don't Do It! It's a Trick.

What are we saying to someone when we ask them to change some essential aspect of who they are? The message is basically this: "You are wrong. You have no right to exist as you are. But if you do this or be that or change the other, I will grant you that right".

Trouble is, no one has the power to grant you that right. It is yours already by virtue of your existence. Your right to be is a given. Your right to be exactly as you are belongs to your essential self and cannot be taken away, but you can give it up.

Of course, there will be times when we need to make course corrections, behave differently, make better choices. But what I am talking about is being asked to deny or betray who you really are, what you really feel, the full and free and incomparable expression of your marvelous essence,  your unprecedented truth, your unparalleled gifts. 

When anyone asks you to deny your true self, don't do it! It's a trick. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

47 Ways to Fine Tune Your Brain by Steven Aitchison

47 Ways to Fine Tune Your Brain

Your brain is a complex organ. It is the controller of your body, your thoughts, your state of mind and your ultimately your life. There are some who abuse it, some who underuse it, and some who overuse it to the point of meltdown.

In this article we'll look at dozens of tactics that will help you maintain your brain into old age and help to increase your mental agility and cognitive development.

1. Don't try and multitask, it can't be done.

Our brains can only focus and concentrate on one thing at a time, this is a proven scientific fact. While you can most likely handle multiple menial tasks, anything that requires you to concentrate, reason, or decide deserves full focus.

2. Exercise your brain, not just your body.

A lot of us leave learning behind when we leave school, college or university. Keep the brain fit by learning something new, whether it be a language, a new skill or musical instrument.

3. The world is a mystery.

Use your brain to constantly ask questions and explore your surroundings. Continually exercise your brain by not accepting everything you see and hear: question it and free your sense of curiosity.

4. Use both hemispheres

Use the left hemisphere of your brain to practice logical, mathematical problems in your life. Use the right hemisphere to unleash your creativity. You will know what side is dominant so make it a point to practice using your non dominant hemisphere.

5. Get to know your sleeping pattern.

Your brain needs sleep as much as your body but everybody is different. I function on 5-6 hours you might work best on 8-9 hours.

6. Feed your brain decent information.

Your brain is learning throughout the night, so give it something worthwhile to feed it. Our brain is not restoring energy whilst we are sleeping it is cutting out the noise and going over the days events and processing it; give it some great material to process.

7. If you want to learn more whilst studying, start pacing.

If you are reading a book, start pacing. Movement gets the blood flowing and this helps oxygenate your brain. I walked my way through university and have taught my sons study walking to help them memorize information.

8. You've heard it before.

Exercise is probably the number 1 way to increase the brains capabilities in every way possible, from memory to creativity. There's no getting around it, we all need to exercise.

9. Keep Social

Staying socially active has been shown to keep your brain sharp well into old age.

10. Use the internet to keep your brain active.

A University of California Los Angeles team found searching the web stimulated centers in the brain that controlled decision-making and complex reasoning.

11. Eat dark chocolate.

Yes, eating dark chocolate has been shown to be beneficial for releasing an important brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine aids in learning and memory.

12. Learn a song.

Learn the lyrics of some of your favorite songs to keep your listening skills and memory skills alive.

13. Watch brain stimulating movies.

Movies that make you think (such as mysteries) help keep your brain and mind active.

14. Play video games

This has been shown to increase cognitive abilities and can help fight Alzheimer's.

15. Practice doing things with your non-dominant hand.

This stimulates the brain in many areas and also can be quite fun.

16. Use meditation as a way to alleviate your stress.

There are thousands of studies about the beneficial effects of mediation and keeping your stress levels down is good for you. You lose brain cells the more stressed you feel, so controlling stress levels is important.

17. Laugh as often as possible.

Laughing out loud boosts the immune system and releases endorphins, the bodies feel good chemicals.

18. Think positive.

Thinking positively is a great way to keep your brain alive. Constant negative thinking depresses the mind and goes on to literally depress the immune system. Thinking more positive thoughts is a good way to keep stress down and spur you to take action for a better life.

19. Practice gratitude.

Practicing gratitude can increase your happiness level significantly which helps to alleviate stress which helps your whole brain and body.

20. Sex

Sex is another great way to keep your cardiovascular system healthy which means more oxygen to your brain which keeps the brain healthy.

21. Read a great book.

No matter what type of books you read, they are all beneficial in keeping your brain healthy and active and ward off the aging process.

22. Drink less alcohol.

Alcohol in moderation can actually be good for the brain, however too much alcohol can kill brain cells and your ability to be able to think and reason effectively.

23. Working.

A lot of people look forward to giving up work as we get older, however, working even in a part time job can keep the mind active. If you are retired you can do volunteer work to keep you active.

24. Keep up to date with current events and news.

Keeping your brain fit is about feeding your mind with new information. Watching current affairs programs can help with this so long as they don't stress you out.

25. Listen to music.

Listening to music that you wouldn't normally listen to is another good way to keep your brain active. Music has the ability to release positive emotions in you.

26. Dance.

Dancing is a great all around for both mind and body. Learning s a new dance helps your cognitive skills, your spatial awareness, your social skills, your motor skills and helps keeps your body healthy.

27. Throw a ball.

Throwing and catching a ball is great for sensory-guided movement. It can improve your brain’s visual, tactile and hand-eye coordination responses and keep them sharp well into old age.

28. Eat well.

Eating certain types of food can really be beneficial to your brains chemistry. Avoid fatty foods and eat more vegetables and fruit. This is sound advice for brain and body.

29. Drink plenty of water.

Drinking water helps the cells function properly and keeps you feeling hydrated from the inside out.

30. Have a cup of tea.

Drinking tea, hot or cold, can stimulate your brain in many ways. Tea contains caffeine which can be good for you if drunk in moderation.

31. Take a trip.

Have you always fancied traveling? Well, it has been shown that traveling really does broaden your horizons.

32. Use your debating skills. (Although I would change this to stimulating conversation. :)

Having friendly debates with friends and family can improve your logical, thinking, reasoning and creativity skills.

33. Sleep a little longer.

Sleeping an extra few hours every now and again is good for rejuvenating your brain and help you learn faster.

34. Take naps.

Taking a nap throughout the day can help keep you from feeling tired and help stave off 'brain fog'. A ten minute nap will do to help you function throughout the day.

35. Turn down the TV.

If you watch a lot of TV turn it down to hone your listening and concentration skills.

36. Break the cycle.

If you tend to do the same thing day in day out, try and break the pattern of your activities. Your brain relies on doing something different to keep it active, break your normal routine to do this.

37. Learn a new word.

Learning anything new will help keep your brain healthy. Learning a new word each day is a simple way to accomplish this.

38. Look at old photographs.

This is a great way to keep your memories alive and to strengthen cell connections within the brain.

39. Do something outrageous.

Doing things we would normally never do like a bungee jump, a parachute jump, hill climbing, a helicopter ride, etc., will keep your brain alive, literally.

40. Train your brain.

The 'cogni-fit' industry is huge and is growing every year and for good reason. Start playing some of these 'cogni-fit' games to keep your brain healthy and active.

41. Take supplements.

Supplements like omega-3, folic acid with vitamin B-12, CoEnzyme Q10, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and an all round strong multi-vitamin supplement, has been shown to slow down the aging process. Check with your doctor before taking supplements.

42. Mindfulness.

A simple mindfulness exercise is to just sit and relax and pay attention to your breathing. This helps to promote relaxation, keep your mind focused, helps with concentration and does the body a world of good.

43. Develop critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking involves you asking questions of yourself and the world around and looking for evidence of your assumptions.

44. Become a philosopher.

Not literally, but start thinking about the bigger questions in life. This develops your brain on many levels. More than likely you will never come up with a definitive answer to the big questions but it keeps your brain and mind active.

45. Make your own affirmations.

Affirmations are a great way to keep your mind focused on your life goals. When you use affirmations you are also using your imagination, and activating other regions in your brain which can help with memory, creativity and even releasing feel good chemicals.

46. Thinking outside the box.

I always thought this was a strange saying as you cannot really think outside the box when you are always living inside the box of knowledge. However over the years I have come to realize it really means thinking without using your reasoning skills to look for alternatives and it can be a great way to keep your mind active.

47. Sing out loud.

Singing is a great way to help you focus and get rid of stress. People who sing out loud feel happier as they are not internalizing thoughts but focusing on an ext renal action, their voice. It also aids memory.

Scientists now know that our brains continuously make new neurons throughout our lives and it does this in response to the what we do in our lives. Neurons are important for transmitting and making connections with other cells. If we lose the neurons, we lose the power to think properly, to use our creativity, to learn, to memorize effectively, basically our brains slowly die. Exercise and brain stimulation is one of the best ways to keep making these new neurons. Using some of the examples above you will keep your brain healthy and active for years to come.

Written on 9/15/2009 by Steven Aitchison. Steven is the author of Change Your Thoughts and works as an alcohol and drugs counselor. He has a BSc in Psychology and has a passion for studying belief formation, thought processes and values and principles. His blog focuses on personal development through changing your thoughts but covers the whole personal development field.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Love Does/Love Doesn't

Love does not imprison.

Love does not judge.

Love does not reject.

Love does not harm.

Love does not exclude.

Love gives space.

Love gives freedom.

Love gives freely.

Love leaves the door open.

Love accepts.

Love embraces.

Love understands.

Love receives but does not take.

Love knows all about you, desires you with a passion...

Thanks for the inspiration, Danielle. Your quote from Abraham-Hick's new book, The Vortex, was synchronistic and an excellent reminder.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dark Nights and Dawn

It's been a ridiculously long time since I have written here. Why? It seems to me that whenever I have been inspired to write, it has been easy to sum up in 140 characters or less, so I have been doing most of my writing on Twitter.

Plus, I've been going through a sort of dark night of the soul experience. I guess I find it difficult to share something like that while I am going through it. It is easier to sum it all up once one is through it and has analyzed the lessons and gifts it held.

But here I am, deciding to write, even though I am square in the middle of such an experience. Oh, what do I know? I could be near the end.

I have heard it said that it is always darkest just before dawn.

In any case, I am exhausted. I understand that is part of the process. I intend to fully surrender to the process, even though I thought I was through with it with the end of last year. Apparently, there is still "stuff" that needs clearing before I am truly ready to move forward.

I am noticing more and more synchronicities. In fact, I have been noting them all along. But my awareness of them is increasing and so it seems as if they are increasing.

In any case, I am grateful for the clearing. I expect to feel much lighter and freer when this is all over with, and perhaps ready for whatever purpose I came to fulfill. We'll see.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

2009 - My Year of Realization

I don't usually do New Years Resolutions. I mean, if you are aware of something that needs to change in your life, why wait for a New Year or even Monday?

However, this year, the time when I am prepared to take action just happens to coincide with the beginning of a new year. So, here I am, sharing my intentions for this now, not necessarily this year.

I started out with three items on my list and it morphed into six by the time I gave my mini-icebreaker for Toastmasters during our first meeting of the year.

And so, my intentions for now are:

1. Experplay at least three times a week. I choose not to exercise because it sounds like such a chore. I would rather spend time doing things I find enjoyable that also strengthen my body.

2. Drink more water. Building habits may be challenging, but I know it will be worth it. I am starting with 4 glasses a day and working up to 8.

3. I choose to practice enjoyment of the abundance of grace and love that is bestowed on me each day and to express appreciation for it all.

4. I choose to believe that I am capable of more than I have ever believed possible. It's the belief, the self-concept, that limits us or sets us free, according to our choice.

5. I choose to Be Someone.

"Be someone who listens, and you will be heard. Be someone who loves, and you will be loved. Be someone who gives, and you will be blessed. Be someone who comforts, and you will know peace.

Be someone who genuinely seeks to understand, and you will be wise. Be someone kind, someone considerate, and you will be admired. Be someone who values truth, and you will be respected. Be someone who takes action, and you will move life forward.

Be someone who lifts others higher, and your life will be rich. Be someone filled with gratitude, and there will be no end to the things for which you'll be thankful.

Be someone who lives with joy, with purpose, as your own light brightly shines. Be, in every moment, the special someone you are truly meant to be."

~ Ralph Marston

6. Finally, I choose to fall in love with life and everyone in my life experience over and over and over again, and give up concern over whether anyone understands that or not.

It is shaping up to be an awesome year already. I am getting excited about my life experience again. Life is turning me on!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Yeah, Yeah, Goals, Yada, Yada, Yada

My outlook on goals has been rather dismal over the past couple years of my life. I got tired of hearing how goals must be this or that - specific and measurable, etc., etc., etc.

First of all, I have created a problem with the word must. It implies that there is only one way to do a thing, and this is it. That used to bug me. So many people use that word, and when I hear it, little bells go off in my head that warn me that ego is raising its ugly head. And I suppose that is my ego wanting to say, You are wrong, buddy. That is not the only way it can be done.

And for everyone who says a thing must be done in a certain way, I can find at least one other person that accomplished the same thing in another way. Just because you have found a way that works, doesn't make it the way. We must humble ourselves and quit telling everybody else how things must be done. Just kidding! You must not do a damn thing you don't want to do. *wicked grin*

Anyway, I am rethinking goals right now, and I realize that what I react to is mostly semantics. They are just words, and as a good friend recently pointed out, it is our attachment of some meaning to the words that causes our adverse reactions.

And I realize that I have always had my own approach to goals that worked for me. Being fairly balanced between my analytical mind and my creative mind helped with this.

For instance, when all the "expert" advice failed me, I developed my own approach to guiding my children. You can't exactly attach metrics to the goal of bringing up healthy, happy children. The approach for me was similar to Michelangelo's approach to carving David. He saw the David in the chunk of marble and chipped away anything that wasn't part of the David. I saw certain behaviors for my children that I knew would help them in life, and I chipped away at behaviors that I knew would be hurtful. I didn't try to change their personalities, and my approach was not harsh. I was merely more persistent than they were, and I often mirrored for them what their behavior looked like.

So, not all goals are measurable, in the sense that they can be evaluated based on systems of metrics. But that doesn't mean you can't see their effects.

Not only that, they are not all specific. I didn't have a list of things I wanted my children to practice. I merely followed my intuition and noticed when they were moving into behaviors that could be harmful to them, and guided them to make course corrections when needed.

The other issue I have had with goals is that I have experienced them mentally as limitations. If I go after this, I eliminate other possibilities. At least, that's the way I was thinking. I am an explorer by nature, and I would rather go on a trip and discover what's out there than have an agenda.

Now, I am thinking of goals more like ports of call on my cruise through this life experience. Just because I set a goal doesn't mean I am married to it for life. I can stop off there and enjoy it for a while, then sail off to another destination of my choice. I can even change course if I so choose and scrap any destination I have set for another, more appealing one.

However, I am still totally unsure of any five year plans. Looking at the rate at which change is happening in our world today, I think three months is long enough to look ahead. We only have today, anyway, and we may not even have later today. This moment is all we have for sure, so let's not put off enjoying our lives for when some goal or other is reached. Tomorrow never comes. Neither does later.